On 24 – 24 January 2022 the European Association of the Via Francigena Ways (EAVF) together with the Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM) conducted a technical visit to Tuscany, the sub-pilot area of the rurAllure project. The team was composed of Silvia Gónzalez Soutelo (archaeologist and rurAllure project coordinator for UAM), Miguel Gómez Heras (geologist at UAM) and Nicole Franciolini (project assistant at EAVF).
The visit took place in the framework of the pilot “Thermal Heritage and others on the Ways to Rome”, one of the four main axes of the project, which deals with the study and dissemination of the rich thermal heritage located along and in the vicinity of the three main roads to Rome: Via Francigena, Romea Germanica and Romea Strata.
The team has already visited this zone in August 2021 and identified strategic areas of Bagno Vignoni, (the municipality of San Quirico D’Orcia) and Bagni San Filippo (the municipality of Castiglione D’Orcia) along the Via Francigena for further research. These localities are perfect places for cultural and natural discoveries, both characterized by a unique thermal heritage. Moreover, they are endowed with places of potential interest for pilgrims and walkers, such as natural thermal pools and private thermal spas, linked to the volcanic activity of the subsoil.
This second visit, in addition to deepen the knowledge of the already investigated places, has expanded the case study area to other nearby locations, including:
- San Casciano dei Bagni, located about 13 km from the Via Francigena. This small town surrounded by greenery is a jewel with a thermal and archaeological heritage out of the ordinary, where the current archaeological excavations are bringing to light – along with a lot of thermal water – treasures from the past related to the use of hot springs in Roman times.
- Abbadia Salvatore, along an official variant of the Via Francigena. In addition to its rich cultural heritage linked to the presence of the Lombard abbey, this town on the slopes of Mount Amiata has to offer visitors its geological and mining heritage, closely connected with the volcanic and thermal activity of the entire area.
- Chianciano Terme, one of the most famous thermal and therapeutic locations in Tuscany, approximately 18 km from the Via Francigena, located the route’s buffer zone.
The visit allowed to conduct technical inspections, discover the less known heritage of these areas, collect data, documentation and photographic material. Furthermore, it represented a crucial moment of encounter between the delegation and the local stakeholders, both from public and private sectors.
Collaboration with local stakeholders is fundamental to meet most ambitious rurAllure goals: digital mapping of heritage, tourist facilities and structures, which will then be available to all pilgrims, and the implementation of a network of services for pilgrims and walkers, that will lead to the development of thermal tourism packages and cultural workshops.
We would like to thank the municipalities of San Casciano dei Bagni, Abbadia San Slavatore and San Quirico D’Orcia, the Archaeological group Eutyche Avidiena, Albergo Le Terme of Bagno Vignoni and Terme di Chianciano for the interest shown towards the project and the technical support in the organization of the visits.